10 Tips to Ensuring Your Year-End Fundraising Appeal Inspires Giving

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by Robin Cabral

What is the one thing that can have a tremendous impact on the success of your year-end campaign?

A solid message.

And this year, that message needs to be on point. Giving has entered a slump, Paycheck Protection Program grants have ended, there is limited pandemic government support, and overall general virus fears and economic conditions have caused several wide-ranging impacts. The fallout is stretching most organizations to curtail services, reduce staffing and cut other essential costs.

Below are recommendations on ensuring the greatest success in your campaign efforts by creating a powerful message:

  1. Provide your donors with a particular problem to solve. Providing hope is not a problem to solve. It isn’t even concrete. Donors want to solve problems. Showing potential donors how great you are is not a problem — but having strong investment impact statements helps a donor see how their $25 donation will make a difference.
  2. Provide a need, don’t celebrate who you are. That is a deterrent. Donors who see all that you have accomplished think the opposite — that you don’t need money. You send a contrary message to your donors. “Look at all we have accomplished. We are great!” equates to “We don’t need your contributions to do anything.”
  3. Talk about how COVID-19 is impacting your organization. Ordinarily, I would not recommend talking about “you” or “your organization,” but this year, if you have a specific financial need, then yes, state it. We are all suffering the impact of the pandemic, and donors will understand your needs. They are not coming from a place of financial mismanagement. Organizations are being hit hard as PPP dollars, budget shortfalls due to canceled events and other economic trickle-downs take their toll. These are unprecedented times, and we are all in this together.
  4. Recognize that things like your organization’s anniversary are not things to fundraise around. What impact does a 25th anniversary make on anyone or anything? You may mention it, but don’t make it the rallying message of your appeal.
  5. Don’t make decisions for your donors in your messaging. Let them decide. How about… don’t make decisions for your donors, period. Most appeals don’t get sent because some misinformed executive director notes, “We can only ask our donors once a year.” Or how about, “We just asked them. We can’t possibly ask again for another donation.” Let the donor decide on how often they want to donate.
  6. Eliminate jargon from your messaging. For example, try to avoid something like, “$100 pays for one Microsoft AXC.” If I knew what a Microsoft AXC was, I may be more inclined to give. Right now, not so much.
  7. Include recurring giving as an option. Especially this year, be sure to include an option for donors to make recurring gifts. These types of gifts are more sustainable, provide consistent cash flow during down economic times and boost donor retention. Plus, most importantly, they help donors stabilize services for those in need and help them have a more significant impact through their giving.
  8. Use impact statements. Outline for a donor what their contribution will make possible, and be sure to outline what a donor’s donation will provide (e.g. $15 per month provides one bale of hay for our animals). Be sure to wrap in both programming and overhead expenses into your impact statements.
  9. Use case for support methodology. Be sure to craft a message that answers the questions that donors will ask: Who are you? Why do you exist? Why should donors support you? Why now? What is the urgency? What will compel a donor to give to you today rather than waiting? What can a donor do? How can they make a difference?
  10. And always remember that donors want to help. You have to let them.

During these pandemic days, you must place particular emphasis on crafting appeal language that works. The above recommendations, if implemented, will ensure great success in your campaign efforts by helping you to create a powerful message that will inspire a donor to take concrete and immediate action.

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